Monday, January 19, 2015

Poodle skirts: so 50’s, not 60’s

In the last couple of months, I’ve seen two – count ‘em – two ads that showed 1960’s teenage girls wearing poodle skirts.

I don’t even remember what those ads were for – insurance? vitamins? ED drugs? – but in one of them the 1960’s teenage girl wearing the poodle skirt was doing the Mashed Potato.

No, no, a thousand times no.

A 1960’s teenager doing the Mashed Potato, the UT, the Twist, the Frug, the Pony, the Popeye might have been wearing a shirt-waist dress, a madras skirt, wheat jeans, black ski pants, a cable knit sweater and matching skirt (plaid). But there’s no way, unless they were at a costume party, that a teenage girl doing the Mashed Potato would have been wearing a poodle skirt.

That poodle skirt-wearing teenager would have been dong whatever the 1950’s version of swing dancing was called. And they would have been doing it to Bill Haley and the Comet’s “Rock Around the Clock,” not to “Dee Dee Sharpe’s Mashed Potato Time.”

Maybe whoever put together those ads would argue that it was a creative anachronism, but I found it just weird.

If you’re going to do decade related stuff, you really need to know that flappers = 1920’s, bobby-soxers = 1940’s, and poodle skirts = 1950’s. I don’t know what teenagers in the 1930’s were associated with. There was a Depression on. In pictures of my mother, who was a teenager in the 1930’s, she’s wearing dresses that looked exactly like what her mother was wearing. Andy Hardy’s girlfriend, Polly Benedict, probably wore a dress that looked exactly like what her mother was wearing, too.

This probably wouldn’t have bothered me that much if I hadn’t seen two separate ads associating the poodle-shirt with the 1960’s.

Not that decades don’t overlap. It’s not like the calendar turns and you empty out your closets and start anew.

Bobby sox are associated with the 1940’s, but teenagers wore them in the 1950’s. So did teen-age wannabes. I remember a swell pair of bobby sox that I had, which, for some reason had shoe laces (red and white candy-striped) threaded through them. As with so much of my clothing, I believe these were hand-me-downs from my sister. (Not that we did hand-me-downs with socks and underwear. We did have our standards. Maybe I just craved those socks so much that my sister just gave up and gave them to me.)

And when I started going to mixers in the 1960’s, there were a few senior couples who, at some point in the evening, would take over a corner of the floor and do the Stroll, a dance that was popular in the late 1950’s.

The rest of us would stop doing the Hully Gully long enough to gape at them.

Once the Stroll was over, we could all get back to the work of the evening, which – if you couldn’t get a boy to dance with you – was trying to figure out the words to “Louie Louie.”

And I can assure you that no one trying to figure out the words to “Louie Louie” was wearing a poodle skirt.

There’s really no other decade that I’d feel so confident in making such fashion assertions.

This is probably a bit surprising, given that for the first 7.5 years of that decade I was mostly wearing a green jumper and a white blouse. But I do have a very keen sense of what people – make that teenage people – were wearing. Which was not a poodle skirt.

As for other decades, well, I’m not so sure.

The more I got into not caring about fashion, the less I was aware of what was happening around me.

The 1970’s. Was that the era of body suits – the stretchy long-sleeved shirts that snapped under the crotch? And Huckapoo shirts – you remember them, the crazy-print nylon numbers that made everyone look like Donny Osmond. Maxi-coats. And the Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress.

The 1980’s were leg warmers and big hair. That is, it was for people other than me. For me, it was menswear skirt suits, worn with either the femme silk shirt with a bow or the butch menswear shirt with a bow tie. (Oh, what the first mass wave of women in the formerly male workplaces went through so that today’s young women could wear form-fitting suits, low cut shirts, and f-me pumps…)

I don’t have a clue what was on in the 1990’s, and pretty much the only thing I associate with 2000 and beyond would be Uggs.

But the 1960’s.

I’m there, baby.

Girls started out the decade dressing like Mary Stone, the ideal teen (as opposed to teen idol) played by Shelly Fabares on the Donna Reed Show. Shiny hair pulled back with a stretchy headband. Modest shirt-waist dress. Later in the decade, that modest shirt-waist dress had been supplanted by the Mary Quant mini-skirt that Dr. and Mrs. Stone would most certainly not have approved if Mary had tried to leave the house wearing one. By the end of the decade, there was the Mary Mother of God look worn by hippie girls, and the jeans and work boots worn by the politicos.

Not that I pay all that much attention to what goes on in the world of fashion, but I do seem to notice that the 1960’s are making a comeback: boucle coats, Pucci print dresses…

The 1960’s. Bring it on.

Just keep in mind that, in the 1960’s, there were no poodle skirts.

Trust me on this one.

1 comment:

Gordon Roberts said...

I really enjoyed reading this article! I have just launched a book on Poodle care , here is the link